Episode 510


Rock the Tote by Rashida Coleman-Hale

Use stabilizer to make a sturdy tote bag with a clever front pocket.

(Get the instructions for Rashida's portable checkerboard project here.)

Download the curved pocket template.


5/8 yard each of print cotton fabric, coordinating print cotton fabric & heavyweight fusible interfacing

1 1/4 yards of linen fabric

Hand sewing needle

Matching all-purpose thread

Removable fabric marker

Cut It

From the linen, cut three 17"x18" rectangles, one 4"x28 1/2" rectangle and one 4"x41" strip. Designate one short side of each 17"x18" rectangle as the upper edge. Mark a 2" square from each lower corner along each side and lower edge. Draw perpendicular lines connecting each mark. Cut a 2" square from each lower corner.

From the print cotton, cut one 17"x18" rectangle, one 4"x28 1/2" rectangle and one 4"x41" strip. Cut a 2" square from each 17"x18" rectangle lower corner, according to the previous instructions.

From the coordinating print cotton fabric and fusible interfacing, cut two 17"x18" rectangles. Cut a 2" square from each lower corner according to the previous instructions. Fuse one interfacing rectangle to the main print cotton rectangle and one linen rectangle wrong side according to the manufacturer's instructions; set aside.

Sew It

Use 1/2" seam allowances unless otherwise noted.

Curved Pocket

Download the curved pocket template; print.

Layer the remaining two 17"x18" linen rectangles with wrong sides together. Align the pocket template corner with the rectangles upper right corner. Trace the pocket curve using a pencil or removable fabric marker. Cut along the curve through both layers. Discard the small curved pieces.

Pin the layered fabric along the curve; stitch. Clip the curve seam allowance to, but not through, the stitching. Turn the linen right side out; press. Topstitch the curve using a 1/4" seam allowance; set aside the front panel.

Align the 4"x28 1/2" linen rectangle and corresponding cotton-print rectangle with right sides together. Stitch one long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance; press open the seam. Fold each long raw edge toward the wrong side to meet at the seam; press. Fold the strip in half lengthwise along the seam; press. Topstitch each long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Repeat to stitch the 4"x41" linen and cotton print strips to create the straps.

Place the long strap linen side down over the front panel 4" from the left edge. Extend the strap lower edge 1/4" beyond the front panel lower edge; pin.

Beginning at the lower edge, topstitch one strap long edge to the linen using a 1/4" seam allowance, ending with the needle down 3/4" from the linen upper raw edge. Pivot the front panel and stitch across the strap, ending 1/4" from the edge. Pivot the front panel and topstitch the remaining strap long edge (1).

Rock the Tote 1

Place the interfaced linen rectangle right side up. With the print side down, place one short strap end 4" from the right edge. Extend the strap raw edge 1/2" beyond the linen upper edge; pin. Repeat to pin the remaining raw edge 4" from the left edge.

Place the cotton print rectangle right side up. Place the front panel right side up over the cotton print rectangle, aligning the raw edges to complete the front panel; pin. Align the long-strap raw edge 4" from the right edge with the print sides together; pin (2).

Rock the Tote 2

With right sides together, align the linen rectangles; pin. Stitch the sides, and then stitch the lower edge; press open the seams.

Flatten the lower corner openings, aligning the side and lower-edge seams. Stitch across the raw edge to form the bag bottom. Repeat to box the remaining corner. Turn the outer bag right side out.

Align the coordinating print cotton rectangles with right sides together and stitch the sides, leaving a 6" inch opening along one side for turning. Stitch the lower edge; press open the seams. Box the lower corners according to the outer bag instructions. 

With right sides together, insert the outer bag into the lining, aligning the side seams; pin.

Stitch the bag upper edge. Turn the bag right side out through the lining opening and push the lining into the bag; press. 

Finish It

Fold the opening seam allowances toward the wrong side. Using a needle and thread, slipstitch the opening closed. Topstitch the bag upper edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Snap To It

Add a magnetic snap closure to the bag before closing the lining opening.


Magnetic snap


Craft knife

Heavyweight interfacing scraps

Stitch It

From the wrong side, press the snap prongs against the lining, centered between the straps and 1 1/2" from the upper edge, making indentations to mark the snap placement. Lightly mark the indentations on the lining right side using a pencil.

Using a craft knife, carefully cut two small slits along the marks. Do not cut through the bag front.

Cut identical slits centered on a 1 1/2" square interfacing scrap. 

Push the snap prongs through the lining slits from the right side. Place the interfacing square on the snap prongs, followed by the snap backing disc. Using pliers, bend the prongs flat against the fabric.

Repeat to add the remaining snap piece to the opposite lining side. Test to ensure the snaps align before cutting the slits on the lining.

Finish the bag according to the instructions above.

Products used in this episode:


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